George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to Samuel Huntington, 13 December 1779

To Samuel Huntington

Head Quarters Morris town 13th Decr 1779.


I have the honor to lay before your Excellency the inclosed papers relative to the state of our supplies of meat;1 and a letter from the commissary general of musters, on the subject of a further subsistence for the officers of his department.2 I thought it necessary to make these communications, and have the honor to be with the greatest respect, Sir, Your Excellency’s most obt servt

Go: Washington

P.S. I send your Excellency our latest papers from New-York.3

LS, in James McHenry’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; Df, DLC:GW; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; Varick transcript, DLC:GW. Congress read GW’s letter on 17 Dec. and referred it to the committee on supplies (JCC, description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends 15:1389).

1The enclosures included a letter from Royal Flint, deputy commissary general of purchases, to GW written at Morristown on 12 Dec.: “It appears from the inclosed representation made by Col. Champion that the subsistence of the army is hastening to a very desperate crisis. If the difficulty he has long felt from a want of money is not soon removed; or if it is, and the evil he apprehends from a limitating act is not prevented, there is no reason to depend on a full continuance of his supplies. I lay this view of the matter before your Excellency, that in case we are reduced to a scarcity, or want of meat, in the course of the winter, such an event may not come altogether unexpected” (copy, in James McHenry’s writing, DNA:PCC, item 152; copy, DNA:PCC, item 169; LB, Jeremiah Wadsworth Papers, CtHi). Flint’s letter enclosed one from Henry Champion to Jeremiah Wadsworth, commissary general of purchases, written at Colchester, Conn., on 3 December. A copy of that communication, subsequently enclosed with GW’s letter to Huntington of this date, reads: “You are very sensible that the want of Money for three or four Months past has been a great hindrance to Peoples purchasing and preparing to winter feed, in addition to that a Rumour prevails that a Limitation Law or Regulating Act is in contemplation, and is likely to be adopted, which two things together induce the people generally to relax their preparations, in spite of what I and the Assistant Purchasers can say or do, I have wrote largely on the subject to His Excellency Saml Huntington Esqr. which You’ll please to peruse, and alter if needfull and Seal &c. and think it my duty thus early to acquaint You that its my sincere belief that I shall not be able to supply the Army more than two Weeks after this with fresh Meat, and even that will be very difficult unless a large supply of Cash is immediately sent or is now on the road. I mean I fear I shall not be able to start droves from here sufficient but two weeks after this unless the two impediments above are removed, which will nearly be consumed in Camp by the last of this or beginning of next Month however I will do the utmost of my Power. …

“P.S. I think that taxation inforced is the only means of our temporal Salvation” (DNA:PCC, item 152; see also Champion to Huntington, 22 Nov. and 3 Dec., both DNA:PCC, item 78).

Flint subsequently wrote GW’s aide-de-camp Alexander Hamilton from Morristown on 23 Dec.: “In my letter of this morning I told you I hardly believed there would be a sudden failure of the supplies of meat. Since giving you that information I have received the inclosed accounts from Colo. Champion which are more unfavorable than I could have expected. I formed my opinion this morning on some reports which prove not to be so authentic as I had reason to imagine. However I am not utterly without hope even though the exigence is critical and the prospects far from flattering. The resources of this state are by no means exhausted. It is capable I presume of affording fat cattle sufficient for our subsistance several weeks. The principal point then is how are we to draw out the supplies? It would be practicable if we had money & I hope not impracticable though we have none. I have dispatched messengers to the several purchasers in this state & urged the necessity of their immediate exertions. These directions are accompanied with my most positive assurances that they shall be speedily fur⟨nished⟩ with money to pay for such supplies a⟨s we can⟩ afford at this crisis. I have also pointe⟨d out⟩ the necessity of having salt meat for⟨warded⟩ from Philadelphia. The Legislature ⟨of⟩ Connecticut will assemble the begin⟨ning⟩ of January. They will chearfully conti⟨nue⟩ their aid to relieve us. What other ⟨illegible⟩ would you have me pursue?” (DLC:GW). The enclosures have not been identified.

3The enclosed newspapers from New York City have not been identified, but GW may have enclosed a copy of an intelligence report from an unidentified person written at New York on 11 Dec.: “I am now to inform you that a considerable part of the enemy are under orders for embarkation say 5 Battalions British all the Grenadiers and Light Infantry of the Brittish—all the Hessian Grenadiers—Regiment of Chasseurs—The Legion and about 200 of the Artillery—the whole from 7000 to 10,000 Men. The heavy Baggage is chiefly on board. It is the opinion of those who have access to Head Quarters that they are going to Georgia. However some think they will first go to the Chesapeak and endeavour to take some french Men of War which are said to be there, and others again think that part of them will go to the West Indies. The Russel—Robuste—Europa—Raisonable—Defiance Renown and several Frigates go with the Expedition” (DNA:PCC, item 152; this document is in the writing of GW’s aide-de-camp Tench Tilghman).

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